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Michigan’s Largest Wind Farm Boosts Local Economy and School Funding

In a small town in Michigan, soybean and corn farms thrive with one new addition that’s been added in the past couple of years: wind farms. In early 2021, the community saw the commencement of the Isabella Wind project. This project, featuring 136 turbines that produce 383 megawatts of energy (enough to power more than 300 small towns!), is Michigan’s largest wind initiative to date. Remarkably, 83 of these turbines are positioned within the Beal City School District, with the school situated centrally within the wind project area.

Before endorsing the project, the superintendent of the Beal City School, William C. Chilman IV’s school district approved a supportive resolution, recognizing the substantial advantages it would introduce to the community. These benefits included hundreds of construction jobs, long-term career opportunities for graduates, and the injection of millions of dollars in new tax revenue into local schools and other governmental bodies.

“In the project’s first two years of operation, it has already generated more than $10 million in new tax revenue for Isabella County, local townships, and local school districts, including more than $1.5 million to Beal City Schools alone,” said Chilman IV to Bridge Michigan. 

The district’s voters approved a millage proposal (a proposal that determines property tax rates) that secured over $11 million for various school improvements, including new buses, additional classrooms, ADA-compliant bathrooms, and stage remodeling. Remarkably, despite this substantial expenditure, local tax bills remain unchanged. This financial relief is largely due to the revenue from the new wind project. Previously, one mill brought in about $75,000; now, with the wind farm, it yields nearly $260,000. The district’s taxable value has surged, thanks to the property taxes paid by DTE on the wind turbines and associated infrastructure.

“I am incredibly thankful for the new opportunities that Isabella Wind will be generating for our community for decades to come. When I talk to my students about the project, they wonder why we had not done this years ago. After all, this is a lot bigger than new funding for buses and buildings. It’s about powering a better future for the next generation,” said Chilman IV to Bridge Michigan.